While Bucco fans remain frustrated with a certain veteran utility man, Chase d’Arnaud is doing well at Class AAA Indianapolis after suffering a thumb injury in spring training. The 26-year-old infielder appeared in 48 games in 2011 and eight games in 2012 with the Pirates. Is there any chance he could be promoted to Pittsburgh and help the big league club right now?
Why it could happen: There are few – if any – solid shortstops available for the Pirates to acquire and upgrade over Clint Barmes. As James Santelli wrote on Pirates Prospects last week, “a triumvirate of Barmes, Mercer and Chase d’Arnaud is about as good as the Pirates will get.” d’Arnaud missed the beginning of the season because of the thumb, but has hit .288 with an .858 OPS since returning. In his last 10 games, he’s hit .300 with a pair of homers.
Why it should happen: d’Arnaud can adequately play 2B, 3B, and SS, which is a plus defensively. He hasn’t made any errors in 60 defensive chances for Indianapolis thus far in 2013, and he’s played all three spots in the big leagues before.
Another huge plus is his speed – if the Pirates need a pinch-runner to wreak havoc and/or swipe a bag, d’Arnaud is the guy.
As previously mentioned, his bat is heating up at Triple-A. While he may not be the best hitter of all-time, you have to be confident that he’ll match Brandon Inge‘s .210/.238/.235 line at the minimum. Inge is hitting just .083 (2-for-24) since May 24th.
Why it won’t happen: Getting rid of Clint Barmes is a longshot, and Mercer should stay on the bench. It ultimately comes down to d’Arnaud vs. Inge… which is exactly why it probably won’t happen. Inge has the intangibles – or “Ingetangibles,” if you will – that Clint Hurdle & Co. love in a veteran leader, the kind of chemistry that Brandon McCarthy described as adding about 20 wins to the Oakland A’s last year. Hurdle and Neal Huntington – desperately trying to avoid the hot seat by preventing another collapse – will likely go with the experienced player at the end of the day, even if it means limited production at the plate. Also, there’s the argument that it makes more sense to play d’Arnaud every day in Indy than to have him sit on the bench in Pittsburgh.
Chase d’Arnaud could be an upgrade for the Bucco bench, but it’d still be a surprise to see it happen.